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Italian art comes to life for Lyon students

Lyon students connected with classical artwork in an unforgettable way on the Nichols Trip to Italy this May.

The Nichols International Studies Program provides financial assistance to students so they can take two-week long Nichols Trips led by Lyon faculty, studying abroad while earning college credit.

Led by Associate Professor of Art Dustyn Bork, the students explored the aesthetics and culture of Italy, including sites such as the Colosseum and Vatican City, as well as original works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Raphael.

“Being able to see these preeminent works in person connects students to that history and the layers of culture that are thousands of years old,” Bork said. “The students get better at appreciating and critiquing the art and interacting with the culture at large.”

Junior Hayley Cormican said the most awe-inspiring moment was stepping out of the train station in Rome and immediately seeing the Colosseum.

“Seeing it for the first time in person, I knew I had chosen the right field of study for my career.”

Morgun Henson, ‘19, said her favorite sight was Michelangelo’s David.

“We had all seen multiple pictures, but there is no experience like seeing that in person! It felt unreal to see all of these things in real life.”

In the prerequisite course, each student picked an object or location they would be seeing on the trip and did a 15-minute presentation on it for their classmates.

“That makes seeing the art more impactful because they have that connection,” Bork said, “and students can ask that expert more about those pieces when we see them.”

Cormican said she had the chance to share her knowledge on Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi with other viewers.

“[Gentileschi] chose to depict artwork that made her voice heard, which was very controversial for a female artist at the time,” she said. “The piece is significant to me because it depicts the artist in the work. It was an unforgettable moment for me getting to share the story of a piece I am so passionate about.”

The local cuisine made an impact on the group, too.

“The food was amazing and affordable. It was basically Batesville prices for Italian cuisine,” Bork said. “We had the true Italian family-style experience with course after course and carafes of wine.”

“Eating there is more of an experiential thing as opposed to just a meal. You’re supposed to take your time, enjoy the food, and have conversations at the table.”

Cormican said students crossed a lot of items off their bucket list on the trip.

“It inspired me to have a deeper appreciation for the art I am blessed to study every day,” she said, “and made me more passionate about my future career as a teacher. The way [Bork] instilled his excitement for art in us truly rubbed off on me.”

Henson said she has never been “so moved” by artwork before.

“You can’t get a feel for the Sistine Chapel and the emotional and religious experience it has until you are in that packed, silent room,” she said. 

Bork said several students developed a passion for traveling.

“The students were interacting with the works and really had their eyes opened,” Bork said. “They want to see more and go experience other cultures now.”

“Italy alone is a work of art. I have always dreamed of going there,” Henson said. “Now that I have been, I would love to go back.”

Cormican said she will never forget the artwork she saw or the memories she made with friends in Italy.

“It was the best trip ever. I am thankful for Lyon College most of all for providing these experiences for students, and I have never been more thankful to attend this school,” she concluded.